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Somali Authorities Make Urban Resilience a Priority

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Somalia’s economic potential is well-known: it has the longest coastline in mainland Africa, a thriving private sector, a young labor force and untapped natural wealth.
Moreover, members of the Somali diaspora are returning to Somalia with much-needed capital for growth and development.

But what will this potential amount to if urban areas are unable to deal with stresses and shocks related to drought, floods and insecurity? Urban resilience is the ability of communities, institutions, businesses, and systems within a city to survive, adapt, and grow, regardless of the chronic stresses and acute shocks they may experience. How well does this description reflect Somali cities?

That question became pressing in the first half of 2017, where Somalia faced its worst drought in decades. Over half the population – an estimated 6.7 million people – were in need of humanitarian assistance and recovery support. Over 680’000 people were displaced in the same time period, most of whom were displaced from rural to urban areas.

The vulnerability of the urban poor escalated due to pressure from urbanization, the competition for scarce resources, and weak governance structures.

Confronted by these challenges, Somali authorities responded with the support of the World Bank through the Somali Urban Investment Planning Project (SUIPP). Local governments have taken the lead in identifying select urban investments that can help improve urban resilience in their respective cities.
The project assesses the feasibility and prepares preliminary designs for these prioritized selected urban investments and also helps prepare municipalities to oversee their construction by building procurement, financial management capacities. Administered by the World Bank through the Multi-Partner Fund (MPF), SUIPP increases the ability of local Somali authorities to prepare and implement urban development projects.

SUIPP prepares the ground for a proposed larger scale, World Bank supported infrastructure project. Once underway, this larger project, named the Somali Urban Resilience and Recovery (SURR) project, will signal the importance of supporting urban resilience, and places local authorities, including BRA, in the forefront of the urban agenda. SURR would also create jobs by financing basic rehabilitation of infrastructure.

The Benadir Regional Administration (BRA), the local authority that governs the capital and implements SUIPP, has made the urban agenda their priority.
Focusing on community road rehabilitation, BRA has completed feasibility studies, preliminary designs, and environment and social safeguards studies for the rehabilitation of community roads to improve transport and transit efficiencies across the 17 districts. The roads to be rehabilitated have been selected by the districts themselves through a consultative process. The road rehabilitation will provide much needed short term labor opportunities for the poor and marginalized within Mogadishu, many of whom are internally displaced.

Inclusive Urban Development

Mogadishu is one of the fastest urbanizing cities in the world, largely driven by its improving security situation, economic prospects and displacement. The recent Somalia Economic Update (SEU) showed that 70% of Somalia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is urban-based. It also concluded that resilience to recurring natural hazards requires considerable, longer-term investment in urban livelihoods, services and infrastructure. Urban sector development is an important factor in development given its potential to enhance economic productivity, reduce human vulnerability and build the capacity of local authorities, including BRA.

Evidence indicates that infrastructure development projects can have social, human and economic impacts and outcomes for targeted communities.

Infrastructure development furthermore can have different impacts and outcomes on men and women, influencing access to services and economic opportunities, resource allocations, and participation in community decision-making. The socio-economic impact study informs larger scale infrastructure investments to ensure they have an equitable impact to all community groups.

Omar Hussein, the project lead from BRA, emphasizes the need of inclusive urban development. “We don’t implement anything unless every affected stakeholder is involved in decision-making. We have to consult professional groups, women, youth, religious leaders and other affected groups to fully scope the urban development needs in Mogadishu. These are the groups that selected the roads to be rehabilitated within their district”.

Preparing for recurrent natural hazards is also crucial, as Mogadishu is the premier destination for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). Improving infrastructure and retrofitting key roads to improve connectivity across districts and water infrastructure will increase the capacity of societies to react and recover from hazards.

Through SUIPP, BRA has clearly mapped the strategic planning capacity, technical and operational capacity, fiduciary systems, transparency and accountability mechanisms, and environmental and social management. With this important groundwork in place, Somalia’s urban zones are setting the stage to foster greater stability through urban investments.

Country Ownership

Since the World Bank’s reengagement in 2013, Somali authorities have been implementing Bank-funded projects. Recognizing that the State has the primary role to reduce disaster risk, the Government stresses urban development as a strategic priority across Somalia. Working through country-systems also increases the capability of Somali authorities to design, implement and own urban development projects

The World Bank Group, through the Multi-Partner Fund, supports a range of state-building initiatives in Somalia, most of which are implemented by the Federal Government of Somalia and its regional counterparts. Examples include the Public Financial Management (PFM) Reform Project, which provides digital systems for transparent financial management, and the Special Financing Facility for Local Development (SFF-LD), which supports construction of infrastructure in Somalia through the Ministry of Finance.

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Somaliland

Protests in Somaliland As Opposition Claim Election Fraud

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Wadani Party supporters took to the streets of various opposition strongholds to protest what they claim to be election irregularities.

In Burco police used live bullets to disperse protestors.

Riots erupted hours after senior Wadani officials held a press conference on Thursday morning, accusing the ruling party of purchasing and using ballot papers forged with NEC’s official stamp.

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Somali News

Pentagon says more than 500 US troops now in Somalia, but denies ‘build up’

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The Pentagon announced in a statement Thursday there are now “more than” 500 US troops on the ground in Somalia.

A significant increase from early 2014 when roughly two dozen troops arrived for the first time since 1993 and the Black Hawk Down incident.

US Africa Command says there have been 28 airstrikes this year, mostly from drones against al-Shabaab, long considered the greatest terror threat in Africa.

At a press conference Thursday at the Pentagon, a top defense official denied any “ramp-up.”

“I do not believe necessarily there’s a ramp-up,” said Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie, Jr., director of the Pentagon’s Joint Staff when asked about the spike in airstrikes in Somalia. “It’s the density of targets is such that now there’s some of opportunities to do those strikes.”

The US military recently conducted six straight days of airstrikes in Somalia from last Thursday to Tuesday.

Last month, al-Shabaab was blamed for a truck bombing in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu which killed over 300 people.

The head of the Pentagon’s joint staff said there’s no link between the fall of the ISIS capital Raqqa last month, and the first airstrikes against ISIS in Yemen and Somalia.

US DRONE STRIKE IN SOMALIA KILLS ‘SEVERAL AL-SHABAAB MILITANTS, MILITARY SAYS

Earlier this month, the US conducted the first airstrikes against ISIS in Somalia.

McKenzie also denied the increase of hundreds of additional troops in Somalia as a “build up,” but just a “flow of forces in and out” of the country.

In May, a Navy SEAL was killed fighting al-Shabaab, the first combat death in Somalia since 1993.

In addition to Somalia, the US military has conducted over 100 airstrikes against Al Qaeda in Yemen, including the first strikes against ISIS in Yemen last month.

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Briefing Room

UNSC votes to extend sanctions on Eritrea and Somalia

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The United Nations Security Council has voted to extend an arms embargo imposed on Eritrea and Somalia for allegedly supporting al-Shabaab. The decision comes barely a week after a panel of experts called for the lifting of sanctions particularly on Somalia. CGTN’s Liling Tan filed this report from New York

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